Touchstone Museum in Nelson, British Columbia has opened its latest exhibit called “The Grow Show” about cannabis culture in the Kootenays. It’s lit.

Shakespeare may have smoked it. Bill Clinton definitely smoked it, but didn’t inhale. The Kootenays grew it — a lot of it. Canada legalized it. And now, Touchstones Nelson Museum is doing a show about it.

All photos by Bobbi Barbarich:

The Grow Show, which runs November 26, 2021 to February 27, 2022 explores cannabis culture in the Kootenays through many different lenses, including agriculture, economy, culture, politics and community perspectives via photography, video, art, artifacts and the written word.

Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine played a role in the installation by providing four articles that have run in the publication over the years including:

  • Bob Keating’s story on the legalization of cannabis in the Summer 2012 issue
  • Dave Quinn’s story on the origins of cocaine
  • Mitchell Scott’s Backside column called “Who’s High” that also ran in the summer 2007 issue


“There is both enthusiasm and reticence to talk about cannabis culture in the Kootenays,” says Curator Arin Fay. “There was a mixed bag of responses: nostalgia, bitterness, cautionary tales, collateral damage, gold-rush-fever and rose-coloured reminiscence, to name a few.” These tales, combined with paraphernalia, recreated scenes, and placebo plants, convey a small part of its vast, complicated history.”


Idealized and pragmatic perspectives are featured on both sides of the legal divide, and Fay, with support from the community, considered carefully the material that would be included, to ensure the narrative being presented is as even-handed as possible. “There is no unabridged telling of this story — no leather-bound book that we can go to for the facts — history is about perspective and the proof that was left behind, which is challenging when so much is under-ground, goes unsaid, and has reason to hide,” she adds.

For more information about the “Grow Show” visit